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Saturday, 24 July 2021

US-funded Cyprus centre to provide border security training

Construction of centre began in January in the southern port town of Larnaca, following a deal signed in September 2020 by then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

AFP , Thursday 3 Jun 2021
Cyprus
Cutting-edge US-funded facility in Cyprus to train EU and Mideast countries.AP
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Cyprus said Thursday a US-funded border security training centre will be operational in January 2022, with the US ambassador Judith Garber saying it would "bring greater security to the region."

The United States embassy says the Cyprus Centre for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security  dubbed CYCLOPS nwill "provide technical assistance in areas related to security and safety, including customs and exports control, port and maritime security, and cybersecurity".

Construction of centre began in January in the southern port town of Larnaca, following a deal signed in September 2020 by then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, on a site visit Thursday, said it would be operational on January 16, 2022.

"The establishment of a Cypriot-owned regional training centre is a token of the strengthening of our relations in issues of security," Christodoulides said.

He said several European Union states and some countries in the Middle East have shown "strong interest" in training their officials in customs checks and cybersecurity threats.

The US is providing equipment and staff for the training facility, which will include a mock land border crossing, passenger screening area, and a mobile cybersecurity training lab.

The US embassy says CYCLOPS will support its "efforts to curb the proliferation risks posed by malign regional actors and violent extremist organisations".

Cyprus said it was selected because the Mediterranean island is located at the EU's southeastern tip, and enjoys good relations with Middle East countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel.

Last month Cyprus said it was in a "state of emergency" because of an inflow of Syrian migrants that has flooded its reception centres, appealing for help from the EU.

In the past four years, the number of asylum seekers in Cyprus has reached four percent of its population, compared to one percent in other EU states, the government says.

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